Creative Business

How to Brand Your Creative Business

September 13, 2020

Are you ready to make a brand for your creative business? Let’s dive in!

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Are you ready to make a brand for your creative business? Let’s dive in!

Why Your Brand Matters

Branding is often thought of as “just a logo,” but your creative brand is about so much more than the visual elements.

Your brand is like the soil for the future of your business. When you build your brand with intention it becomes a solid foundation for you to change, evolve, and grow as a creative business over time.

Take the time to slow down and be incredibly intentional with this process.

Bird’s Eye View

Take a step back to look at the big picture for your creative business before you dive into any of the visual elements. Ask yourself,

  1. What activities light me up and make me lose track of time? (These are your passions).
  2. How do I want to use my passions and talents to serve the world?
  3. Where do I see myself and my business in 1 year? 3 years? 10 years?
  4. How do I want people to feel when they interact with my business?
  5. Who is my ideal client?

Choose 3 Words

Once you’ve answered these questions it is time to start creating the visuals for your brand.

Ask yourself,

What are 3 words that I want people to feel when they see my brand?

These three words will guide your visual elements.

For example, the 3 words that guided the Prints & Plants rebrand were:

  1. Joyful
  2. Simple
  3. Earthed

I wanted to create a brand aesthetic that radiated joy, spacious simplicity, and a connection to the natural world.

I want people to visit Prints & Plants and feel like they can deeply exhale, sink into the present moment, and discover joy.

These three words will serve as your compass as you collect visual inspiration for your creative brand.

Collect Visual Inspiration

This is where it gets really fun! Once you have selected your three words it is time to start collecting the visual inspiration for your creative brand.

You can create an inspiration board on Pinterest, but I highly recommend creating a tangible board that you can see every day.

Gather

Get a large sheet of paper, approximately 18″ x 18,” and hang it on a wall in your house that you will see every day. Make a pile of anything and everything that inspires you before you begin to pin anything to your board.

For example, your inspiration might look like the color of your friend’s pants (see the board below 😉 ), a snippet from a magazine you adore, paint chips from the hardware store, or plants from your garden.

Don’t filter yourself when you collect your inspiration! Collect visual elements for one to two weeks before your pin anything to your board.

Refine

Once you have a good pile of inspiration you can begin to sort through the elements you collected.

With each visual moment, ask yourself if it embodies the three words you chose. If your answer is “no,” or “eh,” toss it.

I know it’s tough to set aside the elements you collected, but you only have a limited amount of space on your inspiration board. Refining is incredibly important to creating a brand that stands out.

Find the Common Thread

Once you have sorted through the elements, your next step is to pin what you kept to your inspiration board. Notice any common colors, words, images, or themes. What connects all of the elements? This connecting point (or points) is one of your clues to how your brand will be cohesive as a whole.

For example, you may find that all of the colors on your board are bright and cheerful. Or you may find that all of the fonts you collect are playful and handwritten. Use the common threads as a guidepost to create consistency with all of your visual branding elements.

Leave your inspiration board up for a week or two. See how you feel each time you pass by the board. Remove elements that no longer work for you, and add ones that do.

Refine, refine, refine.

Inspiration Board to Brand Your Creative Business

Inspiration Board for the Prints & Plants rebrand.

Create Your Visual Elements:

Now that you’ve collected your inspiration it is time to create the essential visual elements for your creative business.

7 Elements for Your Creative Brand:

1. Logo

This is the main image that you will use across all of your branding. This can be as simple as the name of your business in your handwriting, or alternatively, a distinct and memorable image.

2. Alternative Logos

2-3 alternative logos are incredibly useful throughout your creative business. For example, if your main logo is a circle then you would also want a horizontal logo to use on the header of a contract or the footer of your website. I personally recommend creating an alternative layout (for example, horizontal) and an icon (for example, just a simple image without text).

3. Fonts

I recommend selecting 3 fonts for your creative brand. You will want distinct fonts for headers, paragraph (body) text, and accent text to add a pop to your website and documents. You can find free fonts through Google fonts, or purchase fonts through Creative Market. I personally use a purchased font for my logo and Google fonts for the rest of my branding.

4. Icons

You can create a series of 4-5 illustrated, brand-specific icons to use on social media, your website, and printed material. For example, if you are a Food Blogger you could create icons for each category of your blog. These icons might be a spatula, bowl, mug, spoon, and whisk.

5. Colors

I recommend choosing 6 brand colors. Too many, and it’s overwhelming. Too few, and you don’t have enough to play with. I recommend choosing colors that complement each other, darks and lights, and one to two neutrals. Choose colors that communicate the 3 words you selected for your brand. Write down the color codes to easily reference for all of your creative business materials. (For example, #55c5b4).

6. Patterns

Brand patterns are a fun way to add playful, visual interest to your aesthetic. For example, you can use brand specific patterns on tissue paper to ship your products, on coffee sleeves at your restaurant, or on the back of your business card.

7. Brand Voice

Brand Voice isn’t a visual element, but it is incredibly important to creating a cohesive feel for your creative business! Your brand voice is the way you speak to your community in your marketing copy, online courses, or on social media. Think about the type of conversation you want to create with your audience. Do you want to be elegant? Refined? Approachable? Playful? Whatever you choose, keep it consistent across all of your marketing platforms.

In-House vs. Outsourcing

If you choose to create your visual elements in-house, I highly recommend using the book, How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone, as a guide.

Alternatively, you can outsource the visual elements to an Illustrator or Graphic Designer.

If you’d like to work with Prints & Plants on your branding project, check out “The Whole Enchilada” Branding Package here.

Create Your Brand Board

Place all of your visual elements into a single document (your Creative Brand Board) to reference for your creative business materials moving forward.

A Creative Brand Board is a very useful tool to create consistency throughout all of the elements of your business.

Prints & Plants Brand Board

Creative Branding Example

When I started Prints and Plants I jumped straight into action instead of sitting down to define my brand. Taking action was useful because I got quick feedback on the services that worked well. I learned what I didn’t enjoy and got clear on what I could see myself doing for years to come.

However, because I didn’t start with an intentional brand I began to feel lost and scattered over time. I didn’t have the strong foundation I desired that could carry my big vision forward into the future.

This led me to press pause three years into my business to take a step back and look at the big picture for Prints & Plants. I knew that I needed to create a cohesive brand to continue to grow and serve to the best of my ability. I needed a brand that could hold and reflect the bigger vision for my creative business.

You can take a deeper dive into this process and the Prints & Plants rebrand below.

Before:

  • Example of Creative Business Brand
  • Example of Creative Business Brand
  • Example of Creative Business Brand
  • Example of Creative Business Brand
  • Example of Creative Business Brand
  • Example of Creative Business Brand
  • Example of Creative Business Brand
  • Example of Creative Business Brand

After:

  • Example of Creative Business Brand

See the full rebrand here: www.printsandplants.com

I hope this blog post gives you a solid starting point to build your creative brand! I’d love to hear how the process goes for you.

For more creative tips and insights, join the Prints & Plants table here!

Talk soon!

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